Legendary Warner Bros. Records Exec Mo Ostin Has Passed Away at 95

Warner Mo Ostin
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Warner Mo Ostin
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Photo Credit: Warner Records Archives

Legendary Warner Bros. Records music executive Mo Ostin has died. He was 95.

The music industry is now bidding farewell to a legendary label executive. After a long-and-storied career that spanned decades, Ostin passed away at the ripe old age of 95.

“Legendary music executive Mo Ostin passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 95,” shared Tom Corson, Co-Chairman & COO, Warner Records, in an email to Digital Music News. “Mo was one of the greatest record men of all time, and a prime architect of the modern music business. For Mo, it was always first and foremost about helping artists realize their vision.”

Mo Ostin began his career in the mid-50s as a controller at Clef Records during a formative period of the recording industry. The company was soon renamed Verve, which was was eventually sold to MGM Records. At one point in his early ascend, Ostin caught the attention of Frank Sinatra, who hired Mo Ostin in 1960 to head his Reprise Records. In 1963, Reprise Records joined Warner Bros., where Ostin spent 32 years.

Ostin is credited with signing Jimi Hendrix in 1967 after seeing him perform at the Monterey Pop Festival.

“One of the pivotal figures in the evolution of Warner Music Group, in the 1960s Mo ushered Warner/Reprise Records into a golden era of revolutionary, culture-shifting artistry,” Corson continues. “Over his next three decades at the label, he remained a tireless champion of creative freedom, both for the talent he nurtured and the people who worked for him.”

“Mo lived an extraordinary life doing what he loved, and he will be deeply missed throughout the industry he helped create, and by the countless artists and colleagues whom he inspired to be their best selves. On behalf of everyone at Warner, we want to thank Mo for everything he did, and for his inspiring belief in our bright future. Our condolences go out to his family at this difficult time,” adds Aaron Bay-Shuck, Co-Chairman & CEO of Warner Records.

In 2003, Mo Ostin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later, he received the Recording Academy President’s Merit Award at the 2006 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons. Ostin donated $10 million to his alma mater UCLA in May 2011 for a state-of-the-art campus music facility dubbed the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Incidentally, Ostin also donated another $10 million to UCLA for an upgraded basketball facility.

Mo Ostin was born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky in New York City in 1927. Ostin is survived by his son, Michael Ostin.